SCOTLAND’S tourism sector has faced increasing adversity in the last few years. The pandemic saw tourism nationwide face significant pressures and the recovery from this has been hampered by the cost-of-living crisis. Meanwhile, rising interest rates, increasing from 4.5 percent to 5 percent in June, are putting Scotland’s hospitality businesses under further pressure as they cope with the prospect of higher mortgage repayments.
Tourists have tightened their purse strings with a more cautious approach, and an unclear ending to the crisis brings further difficulties for those in Scotland’s tourism sector who are looking to weather the storm. Indeed, the latest statistics from Scottish Tourism Alliance reveal more than half, some 52 percent, of businesses within the hospitality sector are still in ‘survival’ or ‘consolidation’ mode as a result of the financial crisis.
Meanwhile, almost half state that they do not have enough cash reserves for the next quarter, whilst 39 percent said that domestic bookings for June to September this year are lower compared to the same period in 2022.
With Scotland’s tourism businesses a key part of the country’s economy, it has never been more important to provide support for the sector to navigate the challenges ahead and to help businesses fulfil their potential. With this in mind, The Cumberland Building Society has continued to support business owners nationwide, with over 20 years’ experience in hospitality lending and as an award-winning Platinum Feefo trusted service.
The Cumberland has been lending to the hospitality industry for over 20 years and has invested more than £45m in the Scottish hospitality sector in the last two years.
Alasdair Swan, Senior Commercial Manager at The Cumberland said: “Supporting people and businesses across Scotland has been at the core of what we do at The Cumberland for the past 170 years. We want to make a positive difference to people’s lives now and in the future, and we do this in a number of ways.
“Alongside offering financial support and business guidance to our customers, we are also among the top 2 percent of organisations in the world that donate 1.5 percentage of profits to actively support charitable causes and projects.”
A selection of Scotland’s tourism businesses helped by The Cumberland:
Castlebay Hotel, Outer Hebrides
The Cumberland helped a former social worker break into the hospitality industry by buying an iconic Scottish hotel.
Nicola Souter took over the Castlebay Hotel in the Outer Hebrides in April 2022, purchasing the property for £925,000 with The Cumberland providing £550,000 to support the acquisition. It marked a major change of direction for her after working as a social worker and running Airbnb properties.
Dating back to the 1860s, the hotel sits on the Isle of Barra, in the south of the Outer Hebrides. Although remote, it is accessible by ferry and plane, with the island’s beach serving as the landing strip. Nicola, from Edinburgh, had decided to switch careers after 10 years as a social worker. Owning her own business was a large part of the appeal of the hospitality sector, and after a deal for another hotel on Barra fell through she settled on the Castlebay.
Nicola said The Cumberland believed in her when she was finding it hard to get finance from the major banks. She said: “Where most people wouldn’t have believed it was a good option or that I could do it, The Cumberland did. They totally backed me.”
Carlowrie Castle, Edinburgh
Carlowrie Castle, an award-winning Scottish castle located on the outskirts of Edinburgh, which recently received £3.4million in investment from The Cumberland, is undertaking a series of improvements to its services and facilities.
Renowned for hosting exclusive weddings and events, Carlowrie Castle, which was built in 1852 in the Scottish Baronial style, boasts twenty-one spacious bedrooms, with every room offering breathtaking views of the countryside. Work funded by The Cumberland’s investment, which will see the venue welcome more guests and offer a greater choice of state-of-the-art accommodation, is already underway and will complete in 2023.
A formerly derelict stables block located inside a walled garden in the castle grounds has been restored to house seven ensuite bedrooms, while five modern cabins and a sauna will be erected in the new year, offering accommodation for a further 10 people.
Commenting on his collaboration with The Cumberland, Andrew Marshall, founder and CEO of the Carlowrie Group, said: “We’re delighted to have worked with The Cumberland to create new accommodation options for our guests at Carlowrie Castle in order to meet growing demand.
“It was crucial for me to find the right lending partner and when I came across The Cumberland I was pleased that our founding values were aligned. They ticked all the right boxes and the team didn’t disappoint when it came to working together to make our goals a reality.
“I look forward to further opportunities to collaborate as we continue to grow and evolve the Carlowrie Group in the years to come.”
The Inn on Loch Lomond, Luss
A brother and sister duo acquired an 18th century Scottish inn with support from The Cumberland. Experienced hoteliers, Andrew and Rosaline Ryan, purchased The Inn on Loch Lomond, situated near the village of Luss in Scotland, following investment from The Cumberland.
Built in 1804, and first opening in 1814, the original inn was the epitome of a roadside establishment, serving as a watering hole for countless generations of travellers.
As part of the acquisition, the brother and sister have set about modernising the building while ensuring improvements made are in keeping with the inn’s rich heritage. The stylish and contemporary refurbishment boasts modern accommodation, unique public spaces, and a restaurant and bar.
Andrew said: “We had a specific project in mind for The Inn on Loch Lomond, and this is why chose The Cumberland. Without their support, we would not have been able to complete this project.
“They bring with them a personal touch and they’re a lender with a face. When you go to them with an idea, they don’t immediately say no. We immediately felt a connection with The Cumberland. They understood who we are, our background, and what we wanted to achieve.”
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